As you’ve probably noticed by now, the Arab Spring, the collective name for the protests in the Middle East and North Africa since 18 December last year, has captured the public’s imagination. If you want to remind yourself of the events that constitute the Arab Spring, you could do worse than try the Guardian’s excellent interactive timeline, a snapshot of which is shown below:
This post is not about the Arab Spring per se.There are many other places you can read about it, covered by many people who know far more about it than I do.
While all this has been going on, there’s been a second, much gentler conflagration amongst the digerati. The Blefuscudian question they’ve been trying to address is this: What role did social networks and social media in general play in the Arab Spring? The Big-Endians say Everything, the Little-Endians say Nothing, and while they continue to argue I am sure we will all live happily ever after. This post is not about them either.
What this post is about is a question that’s been troubling me for some time. And that is this: What is the Western equivalent of the Arab Spring? I’ve also been thinking of the natural follow-up question to it: When will it happen?
I may be completely wrong. [If I am, I’m sure you’ll tell me.]
I have a sneaking suspicion that the Arab Spring of the West is already upon us. Why?
The original Arab Spring, the Arab Spring of the Arabs, was about disaffected people, mainly youth, giving vent to their feelings about injustice and inequality and unreasonable behaviour of the powers-that-be, by rising up and challenging the control structures around them.
I guess it’s natural for us to think that there won’t be a Western equivalent, there are no comparable conditions of injustice and inequality and unreasonable behaviour.
Perhaps there aren’t.
But then again, maybe there are.
Giving vent to their feelings.
Feelings spurred by injustice and inequality and unreasonable behaviour.
Rising up to challenge the control structures around them.
It gets me thinking.
The US State Department, Amazon, EveryDNS, Mastercard, Visa, Wikileaks, Assange, Manning…..
Sony, the PlayStation Network, not-Anonymous, Anonymous, hacking of PS3s, GeoHot…..
Super-injunctions, Justice Eady, Lord Chief Justice Judge (really, that’s his name), CTB, NEJ, LNS, JIH and for that matter CDE, FGH and LMN….and all that jazz
Maybe that’s the way the Arab Spring will look in the West. As “traditional” control structures like superinjunctions and DMCA and CFAA are found to be unjust and unreasonable by disaffected youth. As they rise up and challenge the control structures. In the West.
Artificial scarcities tend to get met by artificial abundances. Over time, the artificial scarcities lose. No one, not even Qadhafi, can sustain being a Qadhafi forever.
A coda: All this talk about scarcity and abundance reminded me of the old Shaw quote:
“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”